Comfort food with cauliflower risotto
Cauliflower is an ingredient I have grown to love, it’s great in pasta, chargrilled and topped with a tahini garlic dressing, Indian style in aloo gobi and here it’s the star of a risotto. There’s so much more to it as an ingredient than just good for making cauliflower cheese.
My recipe of choice was a one from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Italian’ cookbook for cauliflower risotto (risotto ai cavolfiori). I did a few of my own adaptions to the recipe as I didn’t have all of the ingredients and I was only cooking for 1. I didn’t have celery, I used peas, no parmesan and so I added a bit of feta, these are perhaps sacrilege to any risotto purist.
The pangrattato is worth making and it adds texture and flavour, if you make too much like I did, then you can keep it for adding to salads or a soup topper. If you want more inspiration about which flavours go well together with cauliflower get yourself a copy of the Flavour Thesaurus.
Capers, saffron, almonds and potatoes are a few of the ingredients listed and it includes stories which share how chefs have created specific dishes using certain combinations of flavours. It’s a good go to reference guide.
Cauliflower Risotto (serves 1)
1 handful of stale bread, torn into pieces
4 anchovies fillets and a 1/2 tablespoon of oil
A few slices of thinly chopped fresh red chilli
1 tablespoon olive oil
A knob of butter
5 decent sized cauliflower florets, sliced
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon ground almonds
1 tablespoon of frozen peas
1 x risotto bianco (this includes: 1 shallot finely chopped, 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, 1 glass of white wine, 1 pint stock and 50g risotto rice)
A handful of chopped fresh parsley
A squeeze of lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the pangrattato…whizz the stale bread to make breadcrumbs together with the chilli, anchovies and some oil from the tin. Heat a pan with a drizzle of oil and fry the breadcrumbs, stir frequently until they are golden brown. Set aside for later.
Add a knob of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil to a separate pan and heat gently, then add the garlic, shallot and peas . Cook for 3-5 minutes until soft, then add the cauliflower and the rice and stir until the rice looks translucent.
Pour in the glass of wine and cook until it is absorbed into the rice. Then gradually add the stock to the rice and stir until absorbed, repeat until the rice is almost cooked, this should take about 15 minutes.
Finally, add a sprinkling of feta, stir in the parsley, taste and season. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pan and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Then stir thoroughly to incorporate the cheese, this also makes the risotto creamy ‘mantecato’.
Serve immediately with a scattering of the pangrattato and a squeeze of lemon. I added a couple of slices of sautéed cauliflower on top for texture and colour.